The Greek soup, Avgolemono, has been on my mind for the past year or so, ever since I saw it being prepared on a cooking show. This classic soup is often made with rice and chicken, but it is always flavored with lemon and thickened with egg yolks, giving it its characteristic pale yellow color.
I redid this soup, not so much with authenticity in mind, unlike most other recipes I create, where that is a central theme of mine: authenticity but with better, kinder, vegan ingredients. Instead, this time I just wanted to play with the fall produce that is currently available. Lemon, kale and dill.
I simply love kale and using it to replace the chicken is such a great switch, especially since kale and lemon are a natural flavor-match. Add some dill, which is a flavor-match with lemon, and you have a bright, sunny summer-y dish in the middle of autumn.
In addition to flavor profiles, I also wanted this recipe to be very quick and very easy. This recipe needs only 9 ingredients, including water, salt and black pepper (not pictured below.)
It is a very basic soup recipe that starts with great quality vegetable broth. Most store-bought vegetable broths these days are golden in color and taste great, so if that is what you have on hand, this is a very speedy soup dish. If your broth is not dark golden color, omit the 2 cups of water from the soup and increase the broth to 5 cups. Easy fix.
While your rice is cooking in the broth....
Heat your pot of water for the kale. Cooking the kale separately in a good quantity of water will help draw out most of its bitterness. This same "bitter" remedy is perfect for collard greens as well, just make sure to cook collards for around 15 to 20 minutes, instead of 5 minutes, as collards are much tougher.
Don't forget to save your cooking water, cool it and water your plants with it.
After the rice is cooked, add the cooked kale, fresh dill and lemon juice mixed with the starch. Instead of eggs (which actually bring no flavor to the soup at all, since the lemon is such a dominant flavor), this version is thickened with arrowroot (or cornstarch). It leaves the soup silky and smooth, as does its egg counterpart. Add lemon juice to taste as some people find it very assertive.
That's it! It's done! It is a delicious, tangy first course or light supper when you don't want something too heavy to weigh you down overnight. You can also use short grain brown rice instead of the Arborio, but cook it longer, around 20 minutes.
Now for the anticipated winner of Cook the Pantry (Amazon, B&N) by Robin Robertson...
The winner is Janel Gradowski. Congratulations! Please contact me so I can get the book to you!
Avgolemono Soup with Kale and Rice
Prep and cook in 30 minutes
4 ounces kale, tough stems removed and cut into ribbons
3 cups good quality vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/2 cups arborio rice
1 tablespoon minced dill
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch
Sea salt and black pepper
1. Heat a large pot half-full with water to boiling. Add the kale and cook until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Combine the broth, 2 cups fresh water and rice in a medium pot. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the kale and dill. Season with salt and black pepper. Simmer until hot.
3. Combine the lemon juice (smaller amount) with the starch and mix well. Add to the simmering soup and heat the soup just until it thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, black pepper and more lemon juice.
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